|Coventry City 2 v 3 Ipswich Town|
nPower League One
Saturday, 4th February 2012 Kick-off 15:00
Town Chasing Week's Second Double at Coventry
Friday, 3rd Feb 2012 14:42
Town boss Paul Jewell will be looking for his side to complete their second double of the season when they travel to table-propping Coventry City on Saturday, having picked up their first by thrashing league leaders West Ham 5-1 on Tuesday.
The Blues’ excellent autumn run of six games without a defeat began with a 3-0 home victory over the Sky Blues and also included their away win at West Ham. Town also picked up away draws with Cardiff and Middlesbrough and wins against Brighton and Portsmouth at Portman Road, coincidentally the Blues' next four opponents after Saturday’s match.
Jewell is hoping his side will go on a similar run, building on Tuesday’s 5-1 win: “We want to keep the momentum going into a game against a team in the same area of the table as we are.
“Everyone has had a massive lift because it was a great victory and the training ground’s been a tough place to be around for most of the season because we’ve had some bad results. The players are excited, they’re buzzing, but their feet are on the floor.”
The Blues boss says he feels his side really ought to be well away from the relegation zone: “Sometimes I get annoyed because there’s no way we should be where we are and we should be having more of those nights.
“But we are where we are and we know we’re in a fight and it was a great fillip – West Ham are top of the league and we’re near the bottom.
“It shows you how difficult this Championship is. No one would have called the result the other night. We’ve beaten West Ham twice, home and away, and yet we’ve lost games to teams that people would expect us to beat. This league is ultra, ultra-competitive.”
Which means Jewell isn’t taking Coventry, nine points and five places behind the Blues at the bottom of the Championship, lightly: “They were three minutes away from beating Blackpool and conceded two goals in the last three minutes.
“It’s going to be hard, there are no easy games, and we’ve got to try and take the performances from the last few games into it.
“If you look at the previous three to West Ham - Birmingham, Blackpool and Leeds – we should have got something out of all those games.
“There were a lot of good points in those matches, a lot of positives which we took into the game on Tuesday and even when we conceded a bad goal we bounced back, which was good to see.”
Jewell is unlikely to stray too far from the side which beat the Hammers so impressively. His big choice is whether to recall loanee Alex McCarthy after his one-match ban or stick with one-time Coventry employee Arran Lee-Barrett.
We understand Lee-Barrett will get the nod with Aaron Cresswell and Carlos Edwards the full-backs and Ibrahima Sonko and Tommy Smith the central defenders.
In midfield, Jewell has said Andy Drury and Luke Hyam will be difficult to dislodge from the centre with Jay Emmanuel-Thomas and Daryl Murphy on the right and left respectively.
The Blues manager says Josh Carson has been unlucky not to be involved and the Northern Irishman has made the trip to the Midlands today and could be on the bench.
New midfield signing Ryan Stevenson probably won’t be in the squad having been without first team football since December 17th, while Lee Bowyer is Town’s only injury absentee due to his groin problem.
Lee Martin is set to stay in his role behind the lone striker, who is likely to be Michael Chopra after the former Cardiff man got back to goalscoring ways and won a penalty in the victory over West Ham. Jason Scotland is likely to play some part from the bench.
After the 2-1 defeat at Blackpool, Sky Blues boss Andy Thorn is hoping for a return to form at the Ricoh Arena: “We’re on a decent little run of results at home and it’s obviously important that we keep that going until the end of the season because our away record is appalling.
“It’s not for the want of trying – there have been plenty of times when we’ve dominated for long periods but lost by the odd goal.
“We don’t do it on purpose; contrary to what some people seem to think, we don’t all knock off once we get to the final ten minutes. It hurts, believe me, but we’ve been hurt before and we’ve picked ourselves up.
“The day I don’t think that they’re putting in the effort is the day I’ll think we’re not going to get out of this but I’ve had people running through brick walls.”
Thorn could give a debut to on-loan Manchester United midfielder Oliver Norwood, while ex-Blue Hermann Hreidarsson faces a fitness test having dislocated his shoulder in last week’s loss to Blackpool.
Midfielder Conor Thomas has an adductor problem and is unlikely to make it, while ex-Norwich striker Cody McDonald (knee) is still out and defender Chris Hussey (ankle) is closing in on a return to training.
Town have a good record against Coventry over the years, winning 37 games (35 in the league), losing 22 times (20) and with 23 matches (22) ending in draws.
In September, Town, then in 19th in the table as they are now, got back to winning ways with a comfortable 3-0 live Sky victory over the Sky Blues at Portman Road.
A Martin Cranie own goal opened the scoring in the first half with Keith Andrews adding the second soon after and Jason Scotland sealing it after the break.
Loanee Rory Fallon’s only goal for Town helped the Blues to a 1-1 New Year’s Day draw in the most recent game between the sides at the Ricoh Arena.
The New Zealander’s strike just before the break put the Blues in front, but Freddy Eastwood hit back straight after half-time, prior to Marlon King receiving a straight red card for a late challenge on Darren O’Dea, with Roy Keane’s Town unable to make the most of their advantage.
Blues legend Hermann Hreidarsson joined Coventry from Portsmouth earlier in the month and has started both games since he made the move. Defender Richard Keogh was a Blues Academy schoolboy and ballboy as a teenager.
Town keeper Arran Lee-Barrett is the only former Sky Blue in the Town squad, having spent six months at the Ricoh Arena from January 2007, initially on loan from Weymouth, but failing to make a senior appearance.
Fans travelling by car should note that a section of the westbound A14 will be closed on Saturday. More details here.
Saturday’s referee is Nigel Miller from County Durham, who has shown 68 yellow and two red cards in 27 games so far this season. Miller’s most recent Town match was the 4-0 defeat at Burnley in November in which he booked only one Claret.
Squad from: Lee-Barrett, McCarthy, Edwards, Ainsley, Cresswell, Sonko, Smith, Delaney, Drury, Hyam, Bullard, Leadbitter, Murphy, Emmanuel-Thomas, Carson, Martin, Chopra, Scotland, Ellington.
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